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As early as July 2020, Forbes magazine had noted that the pandemic was causing a massive urban exodus across the United States. So where did everybody go? Clearly, the claustrophobia of apartment-dwelling (exacerbated by COVID-19 quarantines and the mysteries of contagion) had hit a tipping point that had led artists of all stripes to migrate out of the cities. But where did they end up next and what are they doing now? Did poets with freshly made country addresses rediscover the pleasures of pastoral verse? Were novelists—freed from the scrutiny of the corporate panopticon—suddenly emboldened to pen workplace romans à clef? Did essayists suddenly find themselves waxing philosophical about homelife, suburbia or—somewhat unexpectedly—parenthood? What are the collective reactions of these relocated lives and their rebooted careers even as the virus rages on?
For our PLACE issue, we at Litro were very much interested in hearing from those among you who made the jump from New York to New Hampshire, from San Francisco to St. Helena, and from Houston to the hinterlands. How had your recent relocation reoriented your writerly practice? What did creatives with children or parents to take care of envision or obsess about at their iMacs and PCs? When did the whereabouts—be it urban, suburban or (especially) rural—come into play when you put pen to paper. Whether your current abode was a remodel project or a prefab inheritance, a tiny home or a tony townhouse, we wanted to hear from you—particularly as it regards your immediate surroundings. Mind you, we were also interested in stories from those who stayed behind in the city as it’s a new world for all of us. You showed us what life looked like after lockdown.
Litro’s PLACE issue promises to put new names on the map, alongside famous authors and emerging writers. In support of our friends at Pen Parentis, we particularly encouraged writers who are raising or caring for kids to submit their experiences of place. We have Brooklyn-bound Vanessa Walters, Italian native Mario Loprete, and Calcutta-born Ami Rao Khanna. We have Dan Spencer by the sea and Jennifer Probst by the river. All parents, guardians, nannies. Each story, artwork and essay gives voice and eyes to place in all its meanings: global, cerebral, domestic. Enjoy.